To live in God’s light
Sunday 1 December 2019
Archbishop Peter Comensoli
We all need to get on with our lives. Right now, that probably means sorting through all that needs to happen before Christmas arrives – planning for the day, doing the shopping, sending invitations out, sorting through family arrangements, dealing with the madness of end-of-year work deadlines, getting it all done in time.
In amongst all of this, there’s the usual list of family matters that need balancing. (A special shout-out to mothers in this regard!) And then there are the unexpected things: something goes pear-shaped; unexpected news – good or bad – arrives; hurts and disappointments arise; an unlooked-for reconciliation occurs. Yes, we all need to get on with our lives.
So it was in Noah’s time, as Jesus pointedly reminds us in the Gospel we have been given to begin Advent, this season of patient waiting. The people were getting on with their lives, unsuspecting of what was coming. For me, there is a certain tinge of unfairness about this – what’s wrong with being attentive to the matters of daily life, especially when they are being done with a good heart? Are we to simply abandon our daily tasks, to sit around waiting for whatever is coming? This doesn’t seem very gospel-like.
So, what is it that Jesus is calling us to, in reminding us to stay awake amid our day-to-day circumstances? The answer lies in the image of light that permeates our readings today. Isaiah, the great prophet, reminds God’s people to walk in the light of the Lord; St Paul tells the Christians of Rome to come out of the dark and live in the daylight; and Jesus himself warns his disciples to be always ready to greet the arising dawn of God’s presence.
When we become consumed with our daily lives, when we are preoccupied with only the immediate matters; when the horizon of our vision is shrunk down to only what’s in front of us, when the only light we see by comes from the artificial glow of our devices, then we have lost sight of the broader and deeper horizon of our lives and that which might illumine our way.
To lift our heads up and to look around, is to open ourselves up to the possibilities that the Lord has for us: possibilities of tenderness and mercy; possibilities of goodness and grace; possibilities of hope and reconciliation.
To lift our heads up, to see our lives under the light of God’s grace, is to know that all the daily things that pre-occupy us do not need to swamp us. God made us for more, and to live in his light. But to do so, Jesus says, stay awake; be ready and willing to receive what he wants to offer you; come forward into the light and meet your future in him.
As we once again begin this time of Advent, of patient waiting for the living presence of God, I want to encourage you to find a daily moment to lift up your head beyond the immediate, or urgent, or time consuming, and to see your life in a different light. Take the time to see by the light that God is shining upon you, one of grace and hope and renewal. It is a light that brings our daily toil into a wider and deeper horizon, and one which illumines all that we do.
Wouldn’t it be nice if these days before Christmas might become ones in which others recognised us as people who walk in the light of the Lord!